The Wii is Nintendo’s most successful home gaming console, selling 86+ million consoles worldwide. It’s been successful in almost anything we could expect. Motion gaming? It’s the Wii’s selling point, so it’d better be good. First Party Games? This is Nintendo; that’s what they do best. But it’s the little things that the Wii got right that get overlooked among all of its obvious successes and shortcomings.
The Wii’s controller is revolutionary in many ways. Obviously, you’ve got the motion control capabilities. And it has infrared pointer, sure. But did you know that the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo is the first standard split-controller? Think about it. All of the PlayStations, Xboxes, Nintendos, Segas, etc. etc. have variations of a standard one-piece controller(at least as their main input method). I have no idea why, honestly. It’s not that it’s any more expensive to manufacture or any more trouble. It’s vastly more comfortable too, if you think about it. With the standard controller, you have to keep your hands together in the same position for the whole time you’re gaming. With the Wiimote + Nunchuk, you have three feet of maneuverability, making it easy to get into a comfortable gaming position. Plus, if it’s ambidextrous for you lefties.
If you’ve been gaming for a while, you’ve probably amassed a large collection of games for the current console, right? And you’ve probably got some games in there that you don’t want to give up, which led to the backwards compatibility ideology at the beginning of this generation. PS3 had support for most PS2 and PS1 games, and Xbox had limited support. But as the generation progressed, money started becoming tight. PS3 eventually lost all backwards compatibility for PS2 (but kept PS1). So, how was Nintendo able to keep backwards compatibility affordable with the Wii. Simple, it was the hardware. The hardware is only slightly upgraded from the Gamecube, making it where the Wii runs Gamecube games naturally without any special hardware or software like the PS3 and 360. This means that Nintendo isn’t having to include anything additional in the Wii to play GameCube games. So, what the Wii gives up in graphics and processing capabilities, it makes up for with backwards compatibility.
We are moving into the 3D age. 3D movies. 3DTVs. The 3DS. And, in general, it’s considered mandatory for a good game to be rendered in 3D this generation. But we always have Nintendo here to go against the grain and make our beloved side-scrollers. Heck, some of Nintendo’s best games this generation are side scrollers: you’ve got Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and, of course, New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I spend most of my Wii gaming time playing one of these games. Sure, I love 3D rendered games too; the rest of my Wii gaming time is spent with Mario Galaxy and Epic Mickey. But nothing beats the simplicity and nostalgia of a 2D side-scroller.
The dreaded update. It’s my worst nightmare any time I go to play my Playstation 3. But why is it that I don’t have these fears when I go to play my favorite Nintendo classics? Easy: the Wii only updates its firmware a few times a year, at most. There’s seldom, almost never, software updates. What does this mean for the player? More time playing. You don’t have to sit around watching the download bar float across the screen, wasting your time. You just enjoy your gaming experience. Also, Wii games don’t have a ton of download-exclusive content for its games; most everything you could ever need is included on the original game.
In today’s current generation, more complex is always better, right? Not always. Take the difference between the 360 and PS3, and the Wii. The Wii is seriously underclassed when it comes to hardware capabilities. But being behind the times does have its upsides. More complex machines have more complex parts which are more prone to malfunction. So, because it’s behind, the Wii has experienced no Red Ring of Death, no Yellow Light of Death, and no hacking to its online service (
because it doesn’t have one
). It seems that slow and steady really does win.
Who would have ever thought that party games could be so fun on the Wii? Sure, 3D-capable Nintendo consoles have been equipped with four controller slots since they began, but Nintendo has hit a new wave of party gaming this generation because of their approach of gaming for the whole family. The Wii Remote and Nunchuk’s simple design makes it easy for casual gamers and non-gamers to get into the fun. Plus, you’ve got games such as Just Dance and Wii Party providing the software. Good find, Nintendo.
So, obviously, the Wii had some unexpected successes. Many of these successes were crucial to its success. How many of these things will we see in Project Cafe? Will the Cafe have any unexpected successes of its own? We shall see…